Richard Gere serves up a haven for vegetarians

Actor and Buddhist activist backs campaign to make the Indian town of Bodhgaya a meat-free zone. Andrew Buncombe in The Independent:

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Richard Gere, the Hollywood actor who has spurned red meat for the past 30 years, has thrown his support behind a plan to transform the site of Buddha’s enlightenment into a vegetarian zone to spread the message of peace.

The activist, who is taking part in a five-day training session with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, in the Indian town of Bodhgaya, took part in a candlelit march this week highlighting the campaign. “Bodhgaya is a pious place and I want to come here again,” the star of movies such as An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman told reporters, after joining around 500 monks and activists who took part in the march. “I am with the people who have launched this campaign.”

According to Buddhist tradition, Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar, is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment around 500BC. Starting in the 19th century, the area gradually become a site of pilgrimage and is now visited by Buddhists from all over the world, whose presence gives it a very different character from the rest of north India’s impoverished “cow belt”. More:

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